Once, exploring in a rainforest, we found a strange tree, its trunk an immense hollow cylinder of wooden lace. We climbed up, to the canopy of the forest. A bird long ago had dropped a fig fruit in the top of a tall Eucalypt, and the fig that grew from it had sent its roots down, down to the earth, until slowly, over a century or two, it had wrapped the tree, then out-lived the tree, which rotted away leaving the live hollow form of spliced and twining fig tree.
For “Tree (hollowed in)” we poke our noses into the hollows of trees, those tunnels formed over time by scars and microbes, widened by fire and the beaks of parrots and the claws of possums and the tiny endless mandibles of termites and beetles. Stuffed with leaves and grasses or with soft beds of termite frass, this is an animal architecture. For us, memories are stirred of dreamy childhood tree houses and fairy story forests, where terrible things happen, children are abandoned to wolves and witches, but where animals and trees can talk, and to those who show them due respect, they are friendly and helpful.
Here in the gallery, encasing vines mark out the trunk and branches of a tree, an Angophera costata reconstructed with tree-fort planks, and a newly woven skin like a renewal of bark, plaited like a nest. Scraps of blanket are warm and red and live. The wild sound of creaking trees resonates throughout this tree, moving from day to night with the sounds of dingo, frogs and tinkling crickets. Approach one of these woven hollows and you’ll get a response – the sounds of all the hollow-using creatures. Musicians have interpreted birdcalls from the ornithology field guides. Children's recorded animal calls and their handmade creatures were added after our workshop with them. Each thing in the forest has its story to tell, each tree, the dingo, the hunting microbat, the birds. This time the humans were the intervening helpers.
Tree (hollowed in) soundtrack contributors:
Musicians bird calls: Alex Parsons clarinet, Audrey Lawrence violin, Pippa Gissing voice, George Meier percussion, Lucy Hood alto saxophone, Jennifer Stokes clarinet, Angelica Bell cello and alto saxophone , Marvin Bell trombone and recorder, Sui Reardon flute, Matilda McParland clarinet, Nick Galvin voice, Ashley Webster bass clarinet, Cate Fitzpatrick clarinet, Lily McGaw clarinet, Elizabeth Courtney clarinet, Angelica Auerbach clarinet, Charlie Llewellyn alto saxophone, Brandon Velleley clarinet, Heather Davies flute, Shannon Keohan alto saxophone, Ella Davies clarinet, Jonathan Pease electric guitar, Trevor Brown alto saxophone, Tabitha Beattie clarinet, Jonah Hanlon clarinet, Tanya Shaik clarinet, Charles Lawrence alto saxophone, Thomas Foote alto saxophone, Sienna Fox clarinet, Boyd contrabass clarinet, Lily Adillon voice (bat call).
Field recordings: Recording Deryk Engel file processing Kirsty Bloomfield research assistant Lesryk Environmental Pty Ltd., Dr Brad Law, David Stewart, Jen Tobey and Bill Ellis, Boyd.
Hollows as Homes citizen science project www.hollowsashomes.com.au